Nicola Adams became the first woman to secure an Olympic boxing title when she won gold at London 2012 and is also the reigning Olympic, World, Commonwealth Games and European champion at flyweight.
Asked by GQ magazine about whether she encounters prejudice in the sport, the British boxer (who is bisexual) said:
Racism, yes. Sexism, yes, in boxing: people saying women shouldn’t box. I’ve never come across homophobia.
The racism was more when I was younger, in primary school, and it’s about kids not understanding. I used to struggle with being called black. I said, ‘No, look at me, I’m brown’.
My mother’s side is quite mixed. She’s mixed race, my uncles and my auntie have white partners, my stepdad is white. I was always used to seeing white and black round the table. I never understood why people would be racist.”
Adams says she realised she was bisexual aged 15, and has gone on to top the list of Britain’s most influential LGBT people.
It was quite a scary thought for me at the time. You never know how the family is going to react, so I was nervous.
Mum was in the kitchen washing up and I was like, ‘I’ve got something to tell you’. I was so nervous, I was really sweating.
She said ‘What’s wrong?’ and I was just like ‘I’m bisexual’ and she said ‘OK… put the kettle on’.”
This year in Rio Adams successfully defended her gold medal, but said her greatest regret was never meeting her hero, Muhammad Ali, who died in June.
I would loved to have met him and said, ‘You are the reason I wanted to become an Olympic champion too’.
He will always be known, he’ll always be there, the greatest who ever lived.
Nobody will ever forget him.”
Read the full interview in the December issue of GQ, on sale Monday.